Anxiety Depression-They’re Not The Same

Anxiety Depression: Recently, I read a question on the Quora website.  A woman suffering the signs of depression wrote it. Specifically,  she felt depressed because and dreaded going to an upcoming social event. The statement ended with the question, “Why am I so depressed’?

As soon as I read the question I thought, “That’s not depression, it’s anxiety” So, I started reading through more questions about anxiety and depression. And, I saw how often people confused the two. I realized, emotions and in particular, mood disorders come with a lot of bells and whistles. And although anxiety, depression, and stress share things in common, they are separate conditions.  Knowing what’s what plays a major role in getting unstuck and changing your life. So, it’s important for you to know the difference between them.


Anxiety Depression

What You Need To Know About Anxiety

anxiety depression understand differences


Anxiety is based on future-orientated thinking. Also, it involves thoughts of danger or threat. For example, thinking that you might get hurt or wind up in trouble in some way. Basically, you overestimate the dangerousness of a situation and underestimate your ability to cope with it.

You see this threat or danger in one of three spaces of times.

  • Firstly, as something awful, that’s about to happen: ‘Oh my God! I’m going to pass out
  • Secondly, you see it happing in the near future:“ I know I’ll make an idiot of myself  when I meet my husband’s friends this weekend
  • Thirdly, in the longer-term: I’m sure this lump on my shoulder is going to turn into malignant cancer in a few years.

When you are anxious you may feel:

  • You can’t breathe
  • Your heart is racing
  • Paralyzed
  • On pins and needles
  • Sweaty
  • Dizzy
  • Weak-kneed

Anxiety Depression

Anxiety and Your Behavior

anxiety depression behaviors

To avoid your disturbing thoughts about, passing out, an upcoming event or your health, you may try to avoid threatening situations. And while this behavioral strategy gives you short-term relief from anxiety, it reinforces it in the long term. 

When you are anxious you will often engage in ‘What if…?’ thinking (e.g. “What if I lose control?” ‘What if she doesn’t like me?’ ‘What if the plane crashes?’) which usually ends in some imagined catastrophe (e.g., ‘I’ll lose control of myself in public and people will laugh at me. I’ll never recover from the humiliation of it’)

Cycle of Anxious Thoughts Infographic

Anxiety Depression

Think This; Not That

Getting unstuck from anxious thoughts means it’s time for you tossing a different tune. In psychology we have a technique for restructuring our disruptive thoughts it’s called “ positive cognitive reframing.  Specifically, reframing is a way of looking at events, ideas, concepts, and emotions to find more positive options.


What if I can't answer the question?

To This

Then admit that I can’t. Ask someone if they can or say I will find out the answer.


What if they think I'm stupid?

To This

I’m jumping to conclusions even if someone thinks that I don’t have to agree with them.

Another challenge to ‘What if…?’ negative thinking is to ask a “What if…?’ positive question, for example, ‘What if I keep control of myself. The thing is when you are anxious you rarely give equal time to the positive, opposite question. Remember that an objective assessment of future outcomes requires the careful consideration of both the positive and negative possibilities. 

Finally, do not wait until you feel comfortable before you tackle your fears otherwise you will probably be waiting a long time. You can deal with your anxiety while feeling anxious. Doing what you are afraid of eventually lessens the fear and allows you to live the life you want to live.

Anxiety Depression

What You Need to Know About Depression

anxiety depression understanding depression

Depression is a cycle that includes three related elements.  

Frist, depression contains the theme of loss. For example, losing a partner, job, self-esteem, faith or sex drive. Second self-criticism or feelings of low self-worth follow the loss. For example, “ I’m nothing without my partner” or “I lost my job because I can’t do anything right”. Third, because you’ve devalued yourself you begin withdrawing from activities that you once enjoyed. In addition, you shut yourself off from family and friends. And, so you go round and round in a downward spiral.

In psychology, we call the negative content of a depressed person’s thinking, The cognitive cycle of depression.

anxiety depression cognitive depression triad

Along with this hopeless outlook, when you’re depressed you lose interest in:

  • pleasure
  • activities
  •  libido
  • appetite
  • motivation

 You  can develop:

  • poor sleep patterns
  • question everything repeatedly
  • have difficulty making decisions
  • have suicidal thoughts.

Anxiety Depression

 Three Causes of Depression

Self-blame: continually criticizing or hating yourself for your failures and setbacks in life. (‘My marriage failed. I can’t do anything right. I’m totally useless’). Basically, it makes no difference what you blame yourself for, just so long as you give yourself hell for it. The question to you is: How will blaming yourself help you correct what went wrong? As long as, you live trying to correct the past, the past is where you will live and nothing in the present will change.

Self-pity: feeling sorry for yourself over the hardships in your life (‘I didn’t deserve to lose my job. Why me? What’s the world got against me?’). Life is often unfair but you forget this point when you believe that you deserve to be treated differently. Although you are a unique and beautiful individual, you are not a special case in the world.

Grieving for the world’s tragedies: feeling sorry for the suffering of others (‘It’s terrible that famine kills so many children’). Getting depressed over the misfortunes of others does nothing to help them in a practical sense, so what useful purpose does your depression serve? The truth is suffering people don’t want your pity; they want your help; stop thinking and start doing.

Anxiety Depression

Sadness Versus Depression



Negative, distorted thinking is characteristic of depression. But, you might argue, surely there are some events, like the death of a partnerhat justify being depressed; therefore, in these circumstances, a person’s thinking is neither distorted nor negative?

Having lost a loved partner is distressing but the distortions might creep into your thinking because, for example, you believe, ‘I’ll never be happy again’, ‘I’ll never get over it’ or ‘Now that he’s gone, I’ll never have such a perfect love again’. You are predicting your future based on how you are feeling at the present time, but you can’t know, for sure, how your future will turn out (that can only be determined by looking back, not forward).

Remember This…


Sadness is a normal emotion created by realistic perceptions that describe a negative event involving loss in an undistorted way. Depression is an illness that always results from thoughts that are distorted in some way. -David D. Burns

Anxiety Depression

Getting Unstuck and Dealing With Depression

The first step to deal with depression is by developing a daily activity schedule to keep you busy—action forces you to interrupt your depression-inducing thinking. You probably will not feel motivated to undertake much activity so you conclude that you might as well not bother. In fact, motivation comes after action: once you force yourself into doing something then the motivation comes to sustain the action. Regular activity will help to improve your energy and mood levels. Thinking and acting against your depressive thoughts and beliefs helps you to overcome your feelings of helplessness (There’s nothing I can do’) and hopelessness (‘What’s the point?’) in order to begin to enjoy life again.